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food borne illness
food and drug administration
black mold
FDA Sends Warning Letter To Fruit Producer: Company Has History Of Violation And Recalls
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FDA Sends Warning Letter to Fruit Producer: Company Has History Of Violation And Recalls

Food borne illness has been in the media's spotlight for some time now- starting with a fatal outbreak in Europe that stemmed from tainted sprouts to the more recent problems caused by cantaloupes that has claimed dozens of lives in the US. Each report about food sicknesses or product recall understandably kicks off worries about the safety of food supplies in the country. Now the Food and Drug Administration has reported that a warning letter has been sent to Snokist Growers of Yakima, Washington after the agency recieved word that the company has failed to address problems that it was made aware of in an earlier inspection at their plant.

Snokist initiated a recall of some of its food products after several children in North Carolina became sick after eating tainted applesauce at school. All of the sick children recovered and their issues were described as mild but Snokist voluntarily recalled over three thousand cases of canned applesauce. A press release by the company blamed the illness on "faulty seals".

But, a FDA inspector did not cite faulty seals after a June inspection prompted by that recall. That inspection turned up several large, unsealed bags of fruit products many that were bloated and had a strong fermented odor about them. The bags, which are supposed to be sealed and kept sterile were broken open. Inspectors found that the fruit products had been tainted with several varieties of mold including white, brown, blue, blue-green and black mold.

The tainted bags of fruit are reworked according to company policy, with the offending parts removed and the remaining heated to kill off the toxins. The FDA has found that more than eight instances in which Snokist reworked its fruit products, reprocessing the molded sauce into foods that were meant for human consumption. The repackaging happens for all sizes of the company's products from single serve to the industrial bags.

Snokist has announced that it will be testing for patulin, a toxin produced by mold in rotted fruit but the FDA is not impressed by that information calling it inadequate. The agency also warns that there are several mycotoxins which can sicken humans that are not destroyed by heat as the company contends.

Early last year, the FDA gave Snokist six steps that could be used to reduce its molding problem and to improve food safety overall. The latest inspection has revealed that the company has so far only implemented two of those suggestions. Snokist has participated in the Federal Nutrition Program which is implemented by the USDA but is currently not listed as one of that program's suppliers. Snokist will have just over two weeks to respond to the FDA's letter.

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